STRAFFORD COUNTY IMPROVES SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC STANDING IN NEW COUNTY HEALTH RANKINGS

Somersworth, April 5, 2016 – In awareness of National Public Health Week, The Strafford County Public Health Network is announcing that Strafford County is showing progress in the social and economic conditions of the County— one of several key indicators used to measure overall public health.

The County Health Rankings are released annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) and compare various health measurements of county’s throughout the state, which enable public health leaders to understand the differences that exist in health throughout the state. The Strafford County public health region ranks as one of the worst counties in the state for health outcomes, health factors, and health behaviors. Strafford County ranked 8 out of the 10 counties for health outcomes and health factors, and 9 out of 10 for health behaviors, which looks at the behaviors that affect health such as smoking and obesity. These rankings did not change from last year, but we did see improvement in Strafford County’s social and economic factors ranking, which is ranked 4 out of 10, whereas in the last two years, Strafford County ranked 7 out of 10. Higher levels of high school graduation, higher percentage of the population receiving some college education, and lower unemployment explain this change.

Despite the many advances in health, the United States is ranked among the lowest in health of developed countries. Public health leaders across the nation are striving to change this by making the United States the healthiest nation by 2030. To do this, they are turning to data such as the County Health Rankings that examine 30 health factors that influence health to determine areas that need improvement. According to the recent County Health Rankings 2016 release, Strafford County still has a long way to go when it comes to health outcomes and behaviors, but some areas are seeing improvements that have a direct impact on health.

Strafford County has a Public Health Advisory Council (PHAC), whose purpose is to develop and implement a range of public health improvement activities to address the many factors that influence health as identified in the County Health Rankings. Strafford County’s PHAC is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Bureau of Public Health and is made up of community leaders, local health and public health entities, concerned citizens, and experts. The PHAC determined Strafford County’s five top health priorities as identified in the recently released Community Health Improvement Plan as: Substance Misuse: Prevention, Treatment and Recovery; Mental Health; Obesity and Nutrition; Emergency Preparedness; and Heart Disease and Stroke.

The Strafford County Public Health Network facilitates multiple workgroups, and the PHAC which are open to the public to address Strafford County’s top health concerns:

  • Substance Misuse: There has been a lot of work around addressing substance misuse in Strafford County such as rolling out Naloxone (narcan) kits to the public, training recovery coaches, and developing a recovery community center. The following workgroups are working towards these causes: an Opioid Taskforce that meets monthly, a Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Roundtable that meets quarterly, a Harm Reduction Coalition, and a Recovery Community Center (SOS) workgroup. For more information on substance misuse work in Strafford County please visit: org
  • Obesity/Nutrition and Heart Disease/Stroke: Recently formed a work group that meets monthly at Goodwin community Health with a goal of increasing healthy food access and free/low cost physical activity opportunities throughout Strafford County. For more information please visit org
  • Emergency Preparedness: New members are welcome to join the Emergency Preparedness Taskforce which meets monthly to plan for emergencies. For more information please visit org

The rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, include a snapshot of each county in New Hampshire with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking.

About The Strafford County Public Health Network

The Strafford County Public Health Network exists to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life for all individuals in Strafford County.  It is one of 13 networks across the State of New Hampshire that work together to align multiple public health priorities into one integrated system. The Strafford County Public Health Network is representative of Dover, Rochester, Durham, Somersworth, Barrington, Farmington, Milton, Lee, Strafford, New Durham, Rollinsford, Middleton, Madbury, and the University of New Hampshire. The Strafford County Public Health Network is located at Goodwin Community Health and online at scph.org. To join the PHAC, and for more information about the Strafford County Public Health Network, including a list of contacts, please visit scphn.org

STRAFFORD COUNTY AMONG LEAST HEALTHY IN NH

Dean LeMire leads a class for those who wish to become recovery coaches to support the proposed recovery community centers under the Strafford County Health Improvement Plan. Courtesy photo                                http://www.fosters.com/storyimage/FD/20160221/NEWS/160229952/EP/1/1/EP-160229952.jpg&MaxW=650&MaxH=650

By John Doyle
jdoyle@fosters.com

SOMERSWORTH — By many measures, New Hampshire is one of the nation’s healthiest states. It is fifth in overall health, with high immunization coverage among children, a low percentage of children in poverty and high immunization among adolescents, according to www.americashealthrankings.org.

However, the state ranks 49th in treatment options available to substance abusers, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. And Strafford County is eighth of 10 New Hampshire counties in overall health, with a big factor being its lack of drug-abuse resource centers.

Strafford County, which includes 10 towns and the cities of Dover, Rochester and Somersworth, as well as the University of New Hampshire, ranked ahead of only Sullivan and Coös in overall health outcomes. Merrimack is No. 1, while Rockingham is No. 2, down from No. 1 in 2014.

Enter the Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council, a group of more than 165 local stakeholders, including medical, educational, governmental, law enforcement and social-service personnel. PHAC recently issued the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) after 18 months of prioritizing the county’s most pressing health issues and crafting strategies to address those issues.

“It’s ambitious,” said Melissa Silvey, director of public health and continuum of care coordinator at Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth. “This region had never had (a community health plan) before, so we went big. We wanted this to really be about the needs of Strafford County.”

The CHIP focuses on five priorities: Substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery; mental health; obesity and nutrition; emergency preparedness; and heart disease and stroke. Silvey said substance abuse and emergency preparedness are priorities mandated by the state, but it soon became apparent that substance abuse was the county’s most pressing health issue.

As stated in the CHIP, the top strategic approach to its goal of supporting substance-abuse prevention, treatment and recovery is to establish three drug-recovery centers targeted for Dover, Rochester and Durham. Although a heroin epidemic has ravaged the state with record drug-overdose deaths in 2015, the recovery centers would be available to those struggling with any addiction. That’s one reason Durham, home to UNH with its enrollment of 15,000 college students, was selected for one of the recovery centers.

“Durham hasn’t really seen (opioids) as an issue, but it’s not just for heroin addicts,” Silvey said. “It’s for people who struggle with all substances. Durham would cater to a much younger population.”

Durham was also selected to spread the recovery centers out geographically.

The need for recovery centers is great, Silvey said, because most who overdose on opioids will find themselves in an emergency room. While they will be treated, there is little an emergency department can do for a patient’s long-term recovery. “You can’t just get somebody sober and say good luck,” she said. “Recovery centers are for ongoing support for the duration of a lifetime.”

Silvey said she is looking for landlords to donate buildings for the centers. She said Rochester would need a 4,000-square-foot facility. “We don’t have 150 grand to buy one today,” she said. “We need a building donated, or rented to us at very low cost.”

Chronic disease

The burden of chronic disease in Strafford County is great. The CHIP cites a 31 percent adult obesity rate, 5.7 percent rate of adults diagnosed with and hospitalized for coronary heart disease, and the highest rate of stroke in the state, with 20.5 percent of hospital admissions attributed to stroke. Strafford ranks third of 10 counties for stroke mortality, with 204 deaths from 2009-2013.

According to the CHIP, one in four adults in the state is obese (defined as having a body-mass index at or above 30 percent). In Strafford County, 31 percent of adults are obese.

“There are factors that affect obesity — poor eating and a lack of physical activity go hand in hand,” said Liz Clark, community health improvement coordinator at Goodwin Community Health and Strafford County PHAC member.

One objective toward addressing obesity and improving nutrition in the county is the development of the HEAL Coalition, which stands for “healthy eating active living.” HEAL aims to improve access to healthy foods and physical activity.

“We want to increase access to physical activity opportunities that are free or low cost,” Clark said.

One focus group that contributed data for use in the CHIP indicated a lack of accessible healthy food was a barrier to eating healthy. A participant from New Durham said she has to drive to Rochester to get decent options for healthy food at grocery stores.

“We are working with some partners on potential plans to address that issue,” Clark said. “We’ve discussed mobile farmers’ markets, or even starting a farmers’ market up (in the New Durham/Farmington area) that would accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds.”

The key is to overcome the economic challenges some of the smaller county communities face. “We’re already healthy in the scheme of things,” Silvey said. “We have these pockets of poverty that aren’t so healthy.”

This Fosters article can be found at:  http://www.fosters.com/article/20160221/NEWS/160229952

THREE ADDICTION RECOVERY CENTERS EYED FOR COUNTY

A county-wide public health network has ambitious plans to open three drug-recovery centers. Now it’s just a matter of funding.

By John Doyle
jdoyle@fosters.com

Posted Feb. 17, 2016 at 4:55 PM

SOMERSWORTH — A county-wide public health network has ambitious plans to open three drug-recovery centers. Now it’s just a matter of funding.

The centers — targeted for Dover, Rochester and Durham — are estimated to cost around $100,000 each to operate, according to Liz Clark, community health improvement coordinator at Goodwin Community Health.

One major aspect of the Community Health Improvement Plan, recently released by the Strafford County Public Health Network, is to develop and open recovery centers in the three targeted locations to help deal with the addiction crisis in the region.

According to the plan, the recovery centers will serve as resource hubs and peer support for those seeking or sustaining pathways of recovery from addiction, as well as their families.

“On average, when you’re overdosing, you go to the emergency room,” said Melissa Silvie, director of public health and continuum of care coordinator at Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth. “You’re administered Narcan (a drug to treat narcotic overdose), given a resource guide and told ‘have a nice day.’ That’s how it goes. You come back and do it again and again,” Silvie said.

Silvie said those in the region struggling with drug addiction have no place to seek early-recovery support.

“We need a place, we need to offer multiple pathways to recovery,” Silvie said. “We can’t just say, ‘OK, you’ve overdosed, you want to get clean, but you can only do it this way.’ It’s just not the best way to go about it.”

The goal is to open a center in Rochester in 2016, then in Dover and Durham in subsequent years.

Clark said the hope is to move into an already existing building to keep costs down. “The idea is for them to be on Main Street, to be public,” Clark said. “Ideally you’d like to find something that’s donated, but that’s still in the works.”

Clark said about $10,000 has been raised so far through a variety of fundraisers and a small charitable grant. Other fundraisers are in the works for later in the year. The group has also applied for a community level block grant from the City of Rochester worth $137,000, which is pending approval.

Services to be offered include telephone support and one-on-one recovery coaching by trained and certified recovery coaches.

The plan also calls for an existing work group to develop a business plan and fundraising sustainability for the recovery community centers, develop key volunteer and peer supports to bolster capacity and work with existing family support groups to integrate caregiver resources.

Silvie said the centers will also provide a teen support group for young people who have parents struggling with addiction.

The strategy is designed to complement the health-improvement plan and bridge gaps in services among regional addiction treatment and recovery resources and to reduce the harmful stigma associated with past or present substance misuse, according to the plan.

To view this Fosters article: http://www.fosters.com/article/20160217/NEWS/160219428

STRAFFORD COUNTY RANKS LOW IN HEALTH

The Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council recently released a three-year Community Health Improvement Plan.

The Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council recently released a three-year Community Health Improvement Plan. From left are: Marc Hiller, UNH Department of Health Management and Policy; Betsey Andrews Parker, Community Action Partnership for Strafford County; Mary Ellen Gourdeau, American Ambulance/Ready Strafford; Mary Wilson, SAU 64 Milton; Anne Grassie, Rochester Child Care Center; Janet Laatsch, Goodwin Community Health; Dean LeMire, ONE Voice for Strafford County; Mollie Behan, Strafford County Public Health Network; Tracey Collins, Frisbie Memorial Hospital; Liz Clark, Strafford County Public Health Network; Michelle Hanson, Wentworth-Douglas Hospital; and Liz Durfee, Strafford Regional Planning Commission. Photo/Courtesy

By John Doyle

jdoyle@fosters.com

Posted Feb. 15, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Updated Feb 15, 2016 at 6:06 PM

SOMERSWORTH — Strafford County ranks eighth out of 10 New Hampshire counties for overall health outcomes, a statistic one advocacy group wants to change.

The Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council Network has released a three-year Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), a systematic, county-wide plan that summarizes the health of the county, assesses gaps and assets, and recommends evidence-based solutions to address the county’s most pressing public health issues.

“It’s the first-ever health improvement plan for Strafford County,” said Melissa Silvie, director of public health and continuum of care coordinator at Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth. The two hospitals in the county (Frisbie Memorial in Rochester and Wentworth-Douglass in Dover) each embark on a health-improvement plan every three years, but just in their own backyards. The new health improvement plan encompasses all 13 Strafford County communities and the University of New Hampshire to cover the entire region, Silvie said.

Strafford County is ranked behind Rockingham, which includes Portsmouth, Greenland, Hampton, New Castle and Newmarket. It is also ranked below Grafton, Merrimack, Belknap, Hillsborough, Cheshire and Carroll counties and ahead of Sullivan and Coös counties in overall health outcomes. The data represents how healthy counties are within the state. Strafford was ranked ninth in 2014.

Silvie said one reason for Strafford County’s overall health being among the worst in the state has to do with economic disparity.

“If you look at pockets of poverty in Strafford, it’s literally haves and have-nots,” Silvie said. “Farmington, Milton and Rochester are only 10 miles from Durham, Lee and Madbury, but there are social determinants — college degrees. It’s really that simple. Those are the kinds of things that affect public health.”

Other concerning Strafford County health findings include: a 31 percent adult-obesity rate; the highest rate for hospital admissions attributable to stroke; less than one-third of residents reporting being prepared for a wide-scale disaster or emergency; and a high overdose rate.

The plan will focus on five top priorities: substance misuse (prevention, treatment and recovery); mental health; obesity and nutrition; emergency preparedness; and heart disease and stroke. According to Silvie, substance misuse and emergency preparedness are two priorities mandated by the state, but it soon became apparent to the council that substance misuse was clearly a top priority regardless.

Each of the priority areas were assigned goals, objectives, measures and evidence based strategies that will be used as guidelines for area organizations and community stakeholders to improve health in the county. A few of the initiatives selected in the CHIP are already in the making, including creating a recovery community center for those suffering from addiction and strengthening coordination with hospitals and human service organizations to better align resources.

Silvie said New Hampshire is one of the healthiest states in the country, but ranks 49th out of 50 (ahead of Texas) in access to health treatment.

“In the 1980s, New Hampshire was hailed as one of the best states as far as mental-health services,” she said. “Now we’re one of the worst. We’ve systematically broken down systems in place for substance-abuse treatment.”

To successfully implement the CHIP, strategic initiatives have been outlined for each priority area. They can be viewed on the council’s website, www.scphn.org. For obesity and nutrition, initiatives include increasing access to free and low-cost physical-activity opportunities.

For heart disease and stroke, initiatives include implementing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Million Hearts” campaign to save one million lives in five years through heart-health education.

For substance misuse, initiatives include creating a recovery center that will house local resources for youth and adults in the county.

Link to access this Fosters article: http://www.fosters.com/article/20160215/NEWS/160219603/14436 

STRAFFORD COUNTY ROLLING OUT 3-YEAR COMMUNITY HEALTH IMPROVEMENT PLAN

phac2016SOMERSWORTH, February 3, 2016—The Strafford County Public Health Network has released a 3-year Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The CHIP is a systematic, county-wide plan that summarizes the health of the county, assesses gaps and assets, and recommends evidence based solutions to address the county’s most pressing public health issues.

The CHIP was driven by the Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council (PHAC) Network, comprised of over 165 local stakeholders, including medical, educational, government, law enforcement, and social service personnel. The PHAC Executive Board and Network met regularly over the past year and a half to prioritize the county’s most pressing health issues, and craft strategies to address these issues. In addition, the PHAC Executive Board, comprised of 18 high level subject matter experts, guided the creation of the CHIP and will be overseeing the implementation.

Strafford County currently ranks 8 out of 10 in the state for overall health outcomes, health behaviors and self-reported quality of life according to the 2015 County Health Rankings. Other concerning Strafford County health findings include a 31% adult obesity rate, the highest rate for hospital admissions attributable to stroke, less than 1/3 of residents report being prepared for a wide scale disaster or emergency, and has a high overdose rate, with 4 communities  making the top 10 for naloxone administration in the state.

The top 5 priority areas are Substance Misuse (Prevention, Treatment and Recovery), Mental Health, Obesity and Nutrition, Emergency Preparedness, and Heart Disease and Stroke. Each of these priority areas were assigned goals, objectives, measures and evidence based strategies, and is to be used as a guideline for organizations and community stakeholders in the area to improve the health in the county. A few of the initiatives selected  in the CHIP are already in the making including creating a recovery community center for those suffering from addiction, building a Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) coalition, and strengthening coordination with hospitals and human service organizations to better align resources.

To successfully implement the CHIP, continued collaboration among community organizations and stakeholders will be critical. To get involved and to view the full Community Health Improvement Plan visit scphn.org

About The Strafford County Public Health Network

The Strafford County Public Health Network (SCPHN) is part is one of thirteen regions in NH that strives to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life for all individuals in Strafford County. The SCPHN is an umbrella program that also includes ONE Voice for Strafford County, which is focused on substance misuse prevention, treatment and recovery, as well as Ready Strafford which is focused on emergency preparedness.  SCPHN works to align multiple public health priorities while developing an integrated system.  SCPHN is representative of Dover, Rochester, Durham, Somersworth, Barrington, Farmington, Milton, Lee, Strafford, New Durham, Rollinsford, Middleton, Madbury, and the University of New Hampshire. The Strafford County Public Health Network is located at Goodwin Community Health.  For more information or to get involved, please visit www.scphn.org under the contact us section.

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FARMERS MARKET BRIDGING THE HUNGER GAP

Local farmers, volunteers and staff of the Strafford County Public Health Network gather to close out the inaugural season of the Somersworth Farmers Market.
Local farmers, volunteers and staff of the Strafford County Public Health Network gather to close out the inaugural season of the Somersworth Farmers Market.

By Judi Currie
jcurrie@fosters.com

November 13. 2015 4:21PM

SOMERSWORTH – While living in a downtown area with a selection of restaurants and convenience stores works well for some, it can be a challenge when trying to feed a family on a budget.

Without transportation, even a vibrant downtown can become a food desert when it comes to accessing healthy affordable meals.

That is where the Somersworth Farmers Market comes in. Held every Thursday at Goodwin Community Health on Route 108, the market brought fresh food to a more accessible location.

Liz Clark, Somersworth Farmers Market Manager and Community Health Improvement Coordinator for Strafford County Public Health Network (SCPHN) said when the market wrapped up its first season at the end of September, it met its goal of improving access to fresh produce and reducing disparities to accessing healthy food.

“One of the great things about the market is that we were bringing the fresh produce to an area with a bus stop right out front,” Clark said. “So that helped to increase healthy eating.”

This season, SNAP/EBT members accessed a total of $5,799 to spend at the farmers market, $4,531 of which was distributed as free incentives through programs like market match and close the gap.

SNAP is the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program where benefits are now accessed using an EBT card; which works like a debit card.

Through the partnership with Seacoast Eat Local, SNAP/EBT users could get a weekly market match of up to $10.

“If they spent $10 on their card, they received an additional $10 free to spend on fruits and vegetables each week at the market.” Clark said. “Additionally, they received $20 free to spend on food at the market during the last week of the month as part of a program called ‘Close the Gap.’”

Clark said Close the Gap aimed to bridge the gap between the time recipients ran out of benefits until the card was refilled at the beginning of the next month.

“For many, the benefit is not enough to cover what the average person needs for food,” Clark said.

The success of the market was made possible by financial support from the Public Health Network and Stonewall Kitchen, partnership with Seacoast Eat Local and many volunteers from Goodwin Community Health.

Clark said the WIC program, administered through Goodwin Community Health, really helped drive customers to the market by letting them know about the matching programs and how far their benefits would go.

“I was really excited when I heard we would be accepting SNAP/EBT, but seeing it happen at the market really put it in perspective for me how important it was.” Clark said. “On more than one occasion, I saw participants cry when the received the Close the Gap funds.”

The Somersworth Farmers Market is an initiative of the SCPHN and Goodwin Community Health to address the obesity/nutrition public health priority as identified by the Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council.

The Somersworth Farmers Market is looking forward to bringing back the market next year from June through September. Clark said all of the vendors have already committed to return.

This Fosters article can be found at: http://fdweb.sx.atl.publicus.com/article/20151113/news/151119678

SOMERSWORTH FARMERS MARKET IMPROVING ACCESS TO FRESH PRODUCE AND HEALTHY FOOD

Somersworth Farmers MarketSOMERSWORTH, October 29, 2015 — The Somersworth Farmers Market wrapped up its first season on Thursday, September 24 and met its goal of improving access to fresh produce and reducing disparities to accessing healthy food.

This season, SNAP/EBT members accessed a total of $5,799 to spend at the farmers market, $4,531 of which was distributed as free incentives through programs like market match and close the gap.

Through the partnership with Seacoast Eat Local the Somersworth Farmers Market provided SNAP/EBT users with a weekly market match of up to $10.  If a SNAP/EBT recipient spent $10 on their SNAP/EBT card they received an additional $10 free to spend on fruits and vegetables each week at the market. Additionally, all SNAP/EBT customers received $20 free to spend on food at the market during the last week of the month as part of a program called “Close the Gap.” Close The Gap aimed to bridge the gap between the time that SNAP/EBT recipients ran low or out of benefits, and when their EBT cards were refilled.

The Somersworth Farmers Market was an initiative of the Strafford County Public Health Network (SCPHN) and Goodwin Community Health to address the obesity/nutrition public health priority identified by the Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council. Improving access to fresh produce and reducing disparities to accessing healthy food were the goals of the Somersworth Farmers Market that completed its first season last month.

The success of the market was made possible by financial support from the Public Health Network and Stonewall Kitchen, partnership with Seacoast Eat Local and many volunteers from Goodwin Community Health.  Additionally, the WIC program administered through Goodwin Community Health made a significant impact on the success of this market by assisting us in outreaching to its service population of SNAP/EBT users.

Local farmers, volunteers and staff of the Strafford County Public Health Network gather to close out the inaugural season of the Somersworth Farmers Market.
Local farmers, volunteers and staff of the Strafford County Public Health Network gather to close out the inaugural season of the Somersworth Farmers Market.

“Making such a positive impact in our community during our inaugural season of this market is remarkable. The SNAP/EBT numbers truly reflect the need in the community and the success we had in reaching our goals of reducing disparities and increasing access to healthy food,” said Liz Clark, Somersworth Farmers Market Manager and Community Health Improvement Coordinator, Strafford County Public Health Network

The Somersworth Farmers Market is looking forward to bringing back the market next year from June through September.  More information can be found Goodwinch.org/community/farmers-market or on the Somersworth Farmers Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SomersworthFarmersMarket

More information about the Strafford County Public Health Network can be found at www.scphn.org

SOMERSWORTH HAS FIRST FARMERS MARKET

Bringing healthy food to where it is needed most is one of the goals of the first Somersworth Farmers Market.

By Judi Currie
jcurrie@fosters.com

June 05. 2015 4:37PM

SOMERSWORTH — Bringing healthy food to where it is needed most is one of the goals of the first Somersworth Farmers Market.

Set up on the campus of Goodwin Community Health (GCH), organizers celebrated the new venture with a ribbon cutting on Thursday.

Each week vendors will be bringing fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and maple syrup to Somersworth.

Lara Willard, director of marketing and community relations at GCH, said it is their hope that the market will help with one of the program’s goals — reducing obesity in Strafford County.

“We have a couple of areas that are considered food deserts in Somersworth, where there’s a lack of access to fresh food,” Willard said. “So we’re trying to bring access to nutrition and healthy food.”

Liz Clark, public health prevention coordinator for GCH, manages the farmers market. She said a group of volunteers helped make the market a reality. “We figured this was a very good location right off Route 108, a bus stop right out front and it’s a high-traffic area,” Clark said.

Goodwin Community Health partnered with Strafford County Public Health Network to set up the farmers market.

An additional partnership with Seacoast Local allows people to use SNAP benefits. Formerly known as food stamps, SNAP benefits come in the form of debit cards to be used at stores.

Sherri Nixon of Seacoast Eat Local said they run a customer’s SNAP card and give them tokens to use at the market.

“We also give them a market match coupon for $10 good for fruits and vegetables,” Nixon said. “It not only allows them to use their benefit at the farmers market, it gives them an incentive to shop as well.”

Nixon said because products grown locally don’t spend hours in trucks, buying at the farmers market is good for both the local economy and the environment.

The SNAP match is also available at summer farmers markets in Dover, Durham, Portsmouth and Exeter, and winter markets in Rollinsford and Exeter.

Dan Comte, of the Root Seller Farm in Nottingham, had a wide variety of dried beans for sale.

“Our primary rotation in the fields is potatoes, beans and wheat,” Comte said. “We should have potatoes by the Fourth of July. In the gardens we have a handful of smaller seasonal vegetables.”

Deborah Sousane of Greenleaf Farms in Dover brought an assortment of fresh baby green and some starter plants of eggplant and tomato along with soaps and flowers.

Leaven Beer and Bread House of downtown Somersworth had a variety of breads and fresh-baked pretzels.

At the Family Busyness table, Patricia Gingrich showed off her handmade tea cozies, baby blankets, pillows and bibs.

Willow Creek Sugar House, LLC of East Kingston had a variety of maple products.

Marybeth Stocking and Jordan Pike of Two Toad Farm are in the eighth year as full-time farmers in Lebanon, Maine. They had a large selection of fresh vegetables and some seedlings.

Pike said he is excited to be a part of the farmers market and really likes Goodwin’s approach to healthcare.

“The fact that they want to do something like this matches well with what Two Toad Farm is all about: getting food to the people,” Pike said. “It’s important for people to have access to fresh local food and not just options that are trucked in from far away or processed.”

Sanborn Hope Farm offered pasture-raised pork and grass-fed beef. Located in Rochester, they are open weekends and also have chicken.

Other vendors included Pheasant Ridge Farm and Shady Mountain Farm.

Clark said Blueberry Hill Farm would join the market once the blueberry crop comes in.

Joseph Gelinas, shopping with his wife, Irene, said he was in GCH and saw a flier about the market and is really looking forward to having fresh, local produce all summer.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this in Somersworth. You could go to Dover, but why not Somersworth? We’re a city, too,” Gelinas said. “As the months go by they’ll have tomatoes and cucumbers and you know it is going to be fresh.”

Mary Moynihan, outreach and enrollment specialist for GCH, set up a table with information about health insurance. They provide assistance to people who want to sign up for either the Affordable Care Act or the NH Health Protection Program.

Mayor Dana Hilliard said he is filled with pride that the city has its first farmers market. “This is great for the community, it is great for the residents and a great day for Somersworth,” Hilliard said.

The Somersworth Farmers Market will be open every Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. now through Sept. 24.

This Fosters article can be found at: http://www.fosters.com/article/20150605/NEWS/150609577